Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Age-related macular degeneration occurs much earlier than previously assumed

Date:
July 21, 2014
Source:
Universität Mainz
Summary:
Even individuals under the age of 50 years can suffer early forms of age-related macular degeneration, researchers say. With the help of their findings, the researchers were also able to gain insights into how frequently the various forms of age-related macular degeneration occur. On average, about 12 percent of the examined 35- to 74-year-olds had early stage AMD, but only 0.2 percent of the study participants exhibited symptoms of late stage AMD, which is often associated with severe visual impairment.

It is widely accepted that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness in industrialized countries. However, it is questionable whether it can continue to be defined as a disease in people in their 50s and beyond. Investigations to determine the incidence of age-related macular degeneration undertaken as part of the Gutenberg Health Study of the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have shown that even persons under the age of 50 years may be affected by an early form of the eye disease. Just under 4 percent of the 35 to 44-year-old subjects in the population-based study were found to be suffering from AMD.

In order to identify the age- and gender-specific incidence of AMD, the research team of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Mainz University Medical Center led by Dr. Christina Korb, PD Dr. Alireza Mirshahi, and Professor Norbert Pfeiffer assessed the status of the ocular fundus of 4,340 participants in the Gutenberg Health Study. Evaluated were vascular structure, the head of the optic nerve, and the macula of the eye, which is the point of sharpest vision. The results in general documented that the incidence of AMD increases with age. However, the researchers also discovered to their surprise that even persons under the age of 50 years can already be affected by early stage AMD. In the age group of 35- to 44-year-olds, 3.8 percent of the subjects in the Gutenberg Health Study were found to be suffering from the disease. The findings of the Mainz researchers thus contradict the current assumption that age-related macular degeneration only occurs in the section of the population that is over 50 years old.

With the help of their findings, the researchers were also able to gain insights into how frequently the various forms of age-related macular degeneration occur. On average, about 12 percent of the examined 35- to 74-year-olds had early stage AMD, but only 0.2 percent of the study participants exhibited symptoms of late stage AMD, which is often associated with severe visual impairment. "Our research shows that age-related macular degeneration can already occur much earlier than previously thought. This means there may also be possible consequences with regard to the screening examinations for these diseases," concluded Dr. Christina Korb.

Age-related macular degeneration leads to loss of visual acuity. The cause is damage to the cells in the region of the central retina also known as the "yellow spot." There is still insufficient information on the annual number of individuals who develop AMD and the Mainz-based researchers hope to be able to remedy this with the help of their next project. As the Gutenberg cohort was subjected to a follow-up examination five years after inclusion in the study, the research group has now access to more relevant and reliable data. "The prospective design of the study, in combination with the availability of interdisciplinary research data, should make it possible for us to identify risk factors for the development of late forms of AMD in our cohort. We are looking forward with some excitement to the results," explained the team. The objective is to reveal, for the first time, the incidence of AMD across the whole population of Germany.

The Gutenberg Health Study (GHS) is an interdisciplinary, population-based, prospective, monocenter cohort study, which has been conducted at the Mainz University Medical Center since 2007. Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, eye diseases, metabolic disorders as well as immune system and mental disorders are being investigated as part of the study. The goal of the study is to improve the individual risk prediction for these diseases. To this end, lifestyle, psychosocial factors, environment, clinical laboratory parameters, and the severity of any subclinical disorder are being taken into consideration. A comprehensive biorepository is being developed so that molecular biological investigations can be conducted. During the baseline visit, 15,010 participants aged 35 to 74 years were invited to participate in a 5-hour examination program at the study center. This was followed by a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) using a standardized questionnaire and the assessment of diseases and health problems after 2.5 years. All endpoints will be subjected to extensive validation. In April 2012, a detailed follow-up examination of participants similar to the baseline examination was conducted at the center five years after their inclusion in the study. The aim is to continue to monitor the cohort and conduct further tests.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universität Mainz. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christina A. Korb, Ulrike B. Kottler, Christian Wolfram, René Hoehn, Andreas Schulz, Isabella Zwiener, Philipp S. Wild, Norbert Pfeiffer, Alireza Mirshahi. Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in a large European cohort: Results from the population-based Gutenberg Health Study. Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s00417-014-2591-9

Cite This Page:

Universität Mainz. "Age-related macular degeneration occurs much earlier than previously assumed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721100125.htm>.
Universität Mainz. (2014, July 21). Age-related macular degeneration occurs much earlier than previously assumed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721100125.htm
Universität Mainz. "Age-related macular degeneration occurs much earlier than previously assumed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721100125.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) — Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) — Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins